To begin with, a policy that falls back on 9/11 must proceed from a correct reading of the wellsprings of Islamist radicalism. The impulse that took America from Kabul to Baghdad had been on the mark. Those were not Afghans who had struck American soil on 9/11. They were Arabs. Their terrorism came out of the pathologies of Arab political life. Their financiers were Arabs, and so were those crowds in Cairo and Nablus and Amman that had winked at the terror and had seen those attacks as America getting its comeuppance on that terrible day. Kabul had not sufficed as a return address in that twilight war; it was important to take the war into the Arab world itself, and the despot in Baghdad had drawn the short straw. He had been brazen and defiant at a time of genuine American concern, and a lesson was made of him. No Arabs had been emotionally invested in Mullah Omar and the Taliban, but the ruler in Baghdad was a favored son of that Arab nation. The decapitation of his regime was a cautionary tale for his Arab brethren.I personally think this is a totally lame reason to invade a country and kill 100,000 people, which is why Bush & Co. dreamed up so many other justifications. But I think this was always the real reason: to send a message to Arabs that we won't be attacked and pushed around.
Friday, September 11, 2009
Finally, the Reason We Invaded Iraq
Fouad Ajami, in the course of explaining why the war in Afghanistan is not "better" than the Iraq war, offers what I always thought was the real reason Bush, Cheney and company chose to invade Iraq: